The Basics of Art Museum Property Management

Art museums are a crucial part of conserving the history, knowledge, and culture of both the past and the future. They are concerned with the administration and protection of intellectual property rights, arrangement, and maintenance of art acquisition, collections, and exhibition, as well as deaccession processes. Museum directors are largely responsible for analyzing how strategic and structural changes can enhance engagement and reach new audiences. Generally, effective property management is essential for art museums to preserve and showcase their collections and fulfill their mission of providing priceless art experiences to the public; hence, the design and condition of that museum are key to reaching these goals. As an art museum property manager, your role mainly oversees the maintenance, security, and preservation of the museum’s art collection and facility. This will need coordinating with the museum’s directors and other departments to implement strategies to ensure the artwork’s longevity and accessibility. Here are a few ways of doing this.

Functions of a Museum

Museums largely exist to display, study, conserve, and collect display items with cultural, scientific, historical, or artistic value and significance. The largest part of activities in an art museum include supportive research, often in the form of laboratory work, literal research, and fieldwork. That’s not all; there are numerous behind-the-scenes activities involving the collection of artifacts and other items, which form the largest part of an art museum’s functions.

What It Takes to Manage a Museum

Managing an art museum involves a combination of responsibilities, knowledge, and skills. One of these is management and leadership skills. The director’s work is to oversee staff, draft budgets, and generally run the museum. It’s also their responsibility to manage the museum facility by ensuring all buildings are in great shape.

Good museum property management aids in creating new knowledge in society and, in turn, affects thousands of lives. Exhibits and public education programs create awareness of day-to-day living organisms while enhancing educational room for knowledge translation through research. Museums play a major cultural preservation role in any given society. Cultural knowledge and preservation are handed down from generation to generation.

The museum is a place for people to learn about their culture, art, and history. It’s a place where people who love art congregate to engage in various discourses concerning art and its meaning and interpretation. Among the functions of a museum are education, preservation, research, community, and tourism. Therefore, managing an art museum property is more than caring for a building. It’s taking care of a people’s culture, art, and history in all forms of its expression.

Collections Management Policy

An art museum’s collection management policy’s sole purpose is to document the various policies and guidelines for the care, presentation, and development of the museum’s art collection. The policy aligns with the vision and mission of the museum and adheres to professional museum standards. The policy’s goal is to ensure all the collections of an art museum are accounted for through a periodic inventory.

The Difference Between An Art Gallery and an Art Museum

An art gallery is commercial by nature and operations. It’s a private enterprise that curates exhibitions from a group of artists with the sole aim of selling the exhibited artworks. By contrast, an art museum is a non-profit public institution for curating and exhibiting art pieces for educational and cultural purposes.

Safeguarding of Artifacts

Not all museum exhibits require the same levels of protection. Less valuable or unique items might be placed in a simple glass case or behind a rope barrier. Historically rich artifacts, like fossils or clothing, may need extra safety and equal security from damage or theft. Proper Property management entails coordinating with conservators for regular maintenance and restoration.

Also, it requires assessing each artifact and assigning it a space where it can get the level of protection and utmost care it deserves. You’ll likely need to protect artifacts from damaging elements like direct sunlight, in which case you’ll need commercial window tinting services. Also, protection from moisture, pests, wide temperature variations, natural calamities, and accidents involving your audiences should be highly regarded.

What Is Deaccessioning?

Deaccessioning refers to formally deleting or permanently removing an object from an art museum’s database, catalog, or register. The physical removal of an art object from a museum through an agreed process by the acquisitions and collections committee is known as disposal. Deaccessioning is geared toward managing a museum’s collection. It works the same way libraries have an acquisition or accession policy. A deaccession policy’s main goal is to highlight why an object is deaccessioned and the process of deaccessioning.

Several reasons exist for deaccessioning. One of these is that the object is certified to be a duplicate. Another could be that the museum can no longer suitably store the item. It could also be a new collections policy has been adopted since the acquisition of the object. There are many other reasons for deaccessioning, but suffice it to say that when an object is deaccessioned, it ceases to be a part of the museum’s collection and it’s erased from the collections databases.

Site Management

One of the key tasks in art museum property management is facility management, which entails handling the day-to-day operations of the museum’s facility, such as overseeing maintenance and repairs, the museum’s physical infrastructure, including wood flooring refinishing, HVAC systems, electrical, plumbing, and building structure. As a property manager, you’ll schedule regular inspections, be in charge of coordinating repairs, and ensure compliance with safety standards. You’ll equally coordinate with security to ensure safety and manage vendor contracts. You’ll also liaise with custodial staff for the cleanliness of the premises, coordinating cleaning schedules and procedures, which encompass daily housekeeping tasks, such as vacuuming, dusting, and restroom maintenance, as well as regular deep cleaning that require experts such as professional carpet cleaning to maintain a clean and presentable environment.

You’ll also want to partner with a junk removal or dumpster rental service to relieve yourself of the waste disposal hassle. These professionals will bring an empty dumpster to your facility. Once you fill it with waste, they’ll pick it up and dispose of all the contents appropriately. You can get various bins and a custom collection schedule to ensure the property’s waste is handled effectively and doesn’t inconvenience your staff and customers. Suppose you don’t already have a waste management plan in place. In that case, the pros at your local junk removal service can help you develop one tailored to your specific needs, factoring in the size of the facility and your scope of operations.

While people will primarily come to your art museum to view the pieces and paintings you have on display, they’ll also pay attention to the property’s overall condition. Most people will find an unkempt space to be an immediate turnoff. Stay proactive. Don’t let anything get past you. You always want to be the first to know when something needs fixing or replacement in the facility.

Space Planning

Art Museums typically house two types of exhibits: permanent and temporary. The permanent exhibits are the most prominent and are considered the meat of your museum; they usually have spaces specially designed to house their artifacts, often bulky equipment or secure displays. The temporary exhibit spaces should be neutral and flexible for reassembling or redecorating. The property has, therefore, to be huge enough to support crane services that are often needed to offload, load, or move the very bulky stuff. Part of art museum Property management entails exhibition planning, which will have you working closely with curators and exhibition designers to support the planning and execution of exhibitions by optimizing gallery layouts, storage areas, offices, and public spaces. In addition, storage arrangements, installation logistics, transportation, and handling insurance for incoming and outgoing artworks are also part of your responsibility as a property manager.

Inventory and Documentation

Property management of a museum site entails maintaining accurate and up-to-date records of the museum’s art collection. As the property manager, you’ll oversee inventory management, including tracking artwork locations, updating condition reports, and managing documentation related to investment loans, acquisitions, and deaccessions. With technology, you can utilize property management software that integrates all the main features of property administration into a single program, including accounting, screening, monitoring, inspections, reporting, communication, and provision for online rent collection to your renters.

Financial Management

The responsibility for developing and managing budgets related to property maintenance, like handling landscaping services remission, facility improvements, security systems, and conservation, is part of a museum’s property management task. This requires working closely with the museum administration to effectively secure funding and apportion resources. You can utilize technological software and programs like MS Exel and QuickBooks to track expenses, manage contracts, and simplify seeking cost-saving opportunities and coordinating with vendors for supplies and services.

Traffic Flow

Good traffic flow is often created through proactive designs, which must be factored in early. Suppose the museum’s goal is to have visitors move around through the exhibits in a set order so the staff can guide them, or you wish them to mingle freely and experience things independently. In that case, you’ll need to plan how to accommodate that. You’ll need to provide places to sit and sketch or talk as well as plan for easy maneuvering for busy times when people need to move along quickly.

Laws and Regulation Compliance

In managing an art collection adhering to legal and ethical guidelines is essential and staying updated on museum regulations, copyright laws, cultural property laws, loan agreements, and more to ensure the museum’s compliance with current industry standards. An art museum property management goal is to maintain the museum’s logistical and physical infrastructure, necessitating things like lawn care services to ensure the preservation and accessibility of its art collection. Ensuring compliance with health and safety regulations requires conducting safety training for staff and employing protocols to prevent accidents or hazards.

It also prioritizes emergency preparedness for fires, medical incidents, natural disasters, and more. As a property manager, you’ll need to work with relevant departments and stakeholders to develop emergency response plans, conduct drills, and ensure evacuation routes and safety signage are updated in place at all times.


Irrespective of your space, an art museum has to house at least some ancillary services. Most art museums earn additional income and build their brand with a gift shop by offering items for purchase. Some items must be placed in public locations, while others will be housed in out-of-the-way areas like the basement.

Thus, basement waterproofing should be necessary, besides monitoring and adjusting environmental control systems to protect the museum’s collections. A larger establishment can consider setting up a cafe or coffee stand, which will generate revenue and encourage guests to linger. Some of the property management priorities include providing a ticket booth or a reception desk space, storage facilities, offices for staff, and restrooms.

Visitor’s Experience

A museum is an enjoyable place to visit. You want guests to feel welcomed and free to move comfortably from one exhibit to the next. Part of property management is ensuring the facility is set at reasonable temperatures and preventing unnecessary hot or cold spots. If certain arts require higher temperatures, consider the installation of halogen bulbs above the specific pieces. Custom lighting services can be contracted for this. Design rooms reduce noise pollution and provide entertainment for the kids to enhance the visitor’s experience.


A vital role of Property management is managing security measures to protect valuable art collections; this will involve coordinating with security personnel or systems, utilizing surveillance systems, and having emergency response plans to safeguard artworks and visitors. This includes monitoring surveillance systems, coordinating with security personnel or external security providers, implementing access control measures, and handling emergencies by marking out functional emergency exits, which should be considered in doors and window installation.

For an ideal building where an art museum can grow and thrive, there have to be some basic elements that such a building will need to get started. Effective property management entails working with experienced building designers and contractors. Their expertise in coordinating these basics is very crucial. By effectively managing all these areas, you would create a safe, well-maintained, visually and sensory appealing surrounding for visitors and staff at the art museum.